19 brilliant vegan recipes – from orange poppy seed cake to ‘smoked salmon’

Guardian readers
·11 min read

Orange poppy seed cake

This cake has passed the vigorous “visiting non-vegan children” test with flying colours. Preheat the oven to 180C. In a bowl, stir together 375g (1½ cups) plain flour, 190g (¾ cup) sugar, 2 tsp baking powder, ¼ tsp salt, 1½ tbsp poppy seeds and 125g (½ cup) almond meal (or finely chopped almonds). Add 190g soy milk, 2 tsp orange extract, the zest of 1 orange, 60g (¼ cup) olive oil and egg substitute equal to 1 egg, then stir together gently until just mixed. Pour into a lightly oiled 20cm (8in) cake pan and bake for 25-30 min, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Make an orange icing using icing sugar and some of the orange’s juice, then spread over the cooled cake. Simon Perry, cyber-sales trainer, New South Wales, Australia

Chocolate overnight oats with blueberries

This recipe is convenient, as you can make it the night before and your breakfast is ready and waiting in the morning. Mix equal parts oats and dairy-free milk (I use oat milk) with 1 tbsp cocoa powder, some chopped walnuts, 2 tsp date syrup (you can make this by soaking dates in hot water and then blending) and frozen blueberries, then refrigerate overnight. You can also make a delicious chocolate orange version by using orange juice in place of some or all of the milk. Jodie, chef and lampshade maker, Brighton

‘Smoked salmon’

I love making vegan smoked salmon from carrots. It’s super easy and really delicious. Steam thinly sliced carrots, then mix them with liquid smoke, salt, olive oil, fresh dill and lemon juice. Put in the oven at 160C for 8 min, then it’s ready to eat with vegan mayo or cream cheese and cucumber on a bagel. Another easy one is pasta sauce made from cashews. Boil them until they’re soft, then whiz them in a blender with fresh dill, garlic, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, olive oil, a pinch of salt and a drop of water. Served with spaghetti and a sprinkle of vegan cheese; it’s a total winner. Kate Werner, senior campaigns manager at Peta, London


It came a bit of a surprise when my wife announced on New Year’s Day, out of the blue, that she was going to do veganuary, especially when we had a fridge full of cold turkey! The one meal I was most worried about was quiche, but I found and adapted a recipe that uses silken tofu instead of the eggs/creme fraiche mix I usually use. I haven’t looked back – it’s lovely. The silken tofu is mixed with nutritional yeast and black salt (for an authentic eggy flavour) and used to cover the veggie contents (butternut squash, caraway seeds and onion is a favourite of ours) and the butter and lard in the pastry is replaced with vegetable baking fat (do not be tempted to try to make pastry with olive oil – trust me). Simon, university lecturer, Cornwall

Banana ice-cream

Slice 3 medium bananas and freeze for a couple of hours. Then, blend in a food processor until smooth – you might have to keep pushing them down with a spoon. Add a pinch of flaked sea salt and 2 tbsp runny honey, then mix again before spooning into an airtight container and returning to the freezer. It should be ready to eat in a couple of hours. Pour over a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with more salt – or not – as you choose. This recipe is also nice with homemade crunchy honeycomb smashed over the top. Maxine, Manchester

Chickpea curry with coconut milk

Really quick, easy and delicious, this recipe scratches that curry itch. Chop an onion and fry it in a big casserole dish for longer than you think you should. Chuck in 3 cloves chopped garlic, 1½ tbsp garam masala, 1 tsp curry powder and ¼ tsp cumin, then fry for a minute or two, stirring continuously, until it gets lovely and fragrant. Add a tin of chopped tomatoes, a tin of chickpeas and up to a tin of coconut milk, depending on your preference (I go quite light on this). Simmer until a few minutes before you want to eat, then chuck in some spinach to wilt it down before serving. Double the recipe, cook a vat of it, freeze it and eat for weeks. Stew, product consultant, London


Homemade pizza with peppers, mushrooms and courgette
No rubbery cheese here ... homemade pizza with peppers, mushrooms and courgette. Photograph: Kristina Blokhin/Alamy

As a family, we do a regular vegan pizza night. Not for us the rubbery vegan cheese or tasteless ready-made sauces: we make our own delicious tomato sauce with smoked chipotle chilli flakes. We love to use toppings such as roast aubergine, sweet potato, homemade vegan pesto, homemade black olive and walnut tapenade and home-marinated tofu with liquid smoke, plus some regulars such as capers and olives. Delicious – and there’s always enough for lunch the next day. Mike, builder, Co Leitrim, Ireland

Sweet-and-smoky chilli

This is a really hearty meal for a cold day. Roast a dish full of diced winter vegetables – butternut squash, carrots, sweet potatoes and celeriac work well – at 180C for about half an hour. Meanwhile, chop a large onion, 3 sticks of celery and 2 cloves of garlic. Cook over a low heat until the onion is translucent, then mix in 1 tbsp oregano, 2 tsp smoked paprika and ½ tsp chilli. Add 2 tbsp tomato puree, then stir in the roasted vegetables. Stir well, then add a tin of kidney beans and 2 tins peeled plum tomatoes. Stir again, bring to the boil, then simmer for 20 min. Serve with rice or bulgur wheat and leafy green vegetables. Catriona Tate, scientist, Stockport

Pear crumble

I don’t follow a particular recipe to make this. I had an excess of pears that were small, green and hard, but they needed to be eaten. I peeled and sliced them, discarding the core, then laid them in a dish. I sprinkled over some soft brown sugar and a teaspoon of cinnamon. I always use the following recipes for crumble: 175g plain flour, 110g sugar (usually soft brown, but whatever you’ve got) and 110g vegan “butter”. Combine to make a breadcrumb consistency and sprinkle on top of the pears. Press it down a bit, then sprinkle with 1-2 tbsp rolled oats. Cook in the oven at 180 for 35-40 min. Serve with vegan ice-cream, custard or cream. It’s not an adventurous or sophisticated recipe, but it is lovely to eat. Andrew Thackeray, ESOL lecturer, Wiltshire

Green wraps

I stole this recipe from a friend of mine. Marinate tofu in cajun spices and a bit of oil, then bake in the oven. Meanwhile, stir-fry asparagus, sliced spring greens, baby sweetcorn, mangetout and mushrooms. Warm some wraps in the oven, then load them up with hummus and your preferred chilli sauce, as well as the veg and tofu. So delicious! Hanna Cesek, massage therapist, Buckinghamshire

Lentil soup

Finger on the pulse … lentil soup, here garnished with parsley.
Finger on the pulse … lentil soup, here garnished with parsley. Photograph: Nadia Borovenko/Alamy

Start by frying an onion in a little olive oil: cook gently until golden and sticking to the pan. Add about 1.1 litres (2 pints) of water, a vegetarian stock cube and a little salt. Add 500g red split lentils. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and add 3 bay leaves and 1 tsp Marmite, or similar. Simmer for 15 min, then add 2 sticks chopped celery and 2-3 medium sliced carrots. Simmer for a further 15 min. Add 1 sweet potato, cut into small cubes, and cook until all the ingredients are soft. Add 2 tbsp tomato puree, as well as chilli powder, pepper and salt to taste. Liquidise, et voilà! Eat with crusty bread, topped with a good-quality vegan cheese or yeast flakes. Ros Knight, pupil support assistant, Wakefield

Black bean chilli

This is such a simple dish – all you need is black beans, tomatoes, onions, garlic and a heap of paprika and cumin, plus the secret ingredient– a little balsamic vinegar, to make it gorgeously sweet and sour. Heat all the ingredients in a pan and leave to simmer. It’s hearty enough to please even the most voracious meat eater and a heavenly comfort food when served in a huge bowl with a mound of fluffy rice. Claire Coates, teacher, Ashby

Crema catalana

We have discovered that oat cream is brilliant and many dishes we thought we would miss can be enjoyed by using it. To make crema catalana, heat oat milk and oat cream in a pan with agar-agar, cornflour and caster sugar, as well as a vanilla pod (or paste), a cinnamon stick and lemon peel. Once thickened, remove the peel and cinnamon, then pour into ramekins and refrigerate until set. Before serving, sprinkle more caster sugar on top and use a blowtorch to caramelise and harden. Steve Mackay, retired drama teacher, Hebden Bridge

Nut pie

Fill a pie dish with a shredded boiled cabbage, then mix with equal quantities (about 100g each) of chopped walnuts, chopped dates, sliced mushrooms, ground almonds and grated cheese (you can use a vegan cheddar; I have been using homemade kishk, which is fermented bulgur wheat, and has something of the texture and taste of feta). Add cinnamon and grated nutmeg, season with salt and mix well. Top with shortcrust pastry and cook in the oven for half an hour, until the pastry is golden. Malcolm Allison, nurseryman, Cheltenham

Cheesy broccoli soup

Broccoli cheese soup
Eat your greens ... broccoli cheese soup. Photograph: Matthew Boyer/Getty Images

Make a simple veggie soup with onions, garlic, carrots and potatoes. Then, whiz it in a food processor with coconut milk, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, miso, mustard and whatever spices and herbs you fancy. Then, return to the saucepan and cook broccoli florets in the soup. (If you use purple carrots instead, it looks like chocolate custard – and not very appetising at all – but it tastes delicious.) For dessert, I like chocolate pudding made with avocado, ripe banana, frozen berries, cacao powder and a little plant milk, all whizzed together. Add coconut sugar or maple syrup if it’s not sweet enough and serve with homemade granola. Anonymous, retired, Lake District

Tofu egg mayo

I used to love eating eggs, so I was ecstatic when I found this recipe. Take a pack of firm tofu (Cauldron is good), squeeze out the excess liquid, then crumble it into small pieces in a bowl. Add 1 tbsp vegan mayo, ½ tsp turmeric powder, some black pepper, 1 heaped tsp horseradish mustard or dijon mustard and 1 tsp kala namak (black salt). Mix together, then add half a punnet of cress. Use to make vegan egg mayo sandwiches that will fool any egg eater. Katy Clough, Cheshire

Coconut chocolate chia mousse

Chocolate chia mousse
What, no sugar? Chocolate chia mousse. Photograph: Panther Media/Alamy

This dessert is sugar free, chocolatey and delicious. Mix 3 tbsp chia seeds and 2 tbsp cacao or unsweetened cocoa powder with a tin of coconut milk. Pour into individual glasses or bowls and leave to set for a couple of hours. Once set, you could top with a dusting of desiccated coconut or fruit – but it is just as good without! Ursula Watson, teacher, Wirral

Falafel burgers

Falafel burgers
Give peas a chance ... falafel burgers. Photograph: Brent Hofacker/Alamy

Everyone loves these, especially children. Heat a splash of oil in a frying pan. Add 1 small finely chopped onion, 1 grated carrot and 1 tsp ground cumin, then cook until softened. Remove from the heat and mash or blend with a 400g tin of drained, rinsed kidney beans, chickpeas or other beans (if you use baked beans, wash off the tomato sauce first). Add 1 tsp plain flour (or rice flour, if you want the recipe to be gluten-free) and season. Form the mixture into burger patties or falafel. Heat more oil and shallow fry until lightly browned. Chantelle Norton, charity director, Devon

Minestrone soup

This recipe is easy. Carrots, celery and potatoes are essentials, but I also like to add all kinds of vegetables, in particular leeks, onion, peas, spinach, sweet potatoes and courgette. I chop all the vegetables and cover with cold water in a saucepan, then add salt and let it simmer. When the water boils, I add barley or mixed grains (some of them require soaking in water overnight). Cooking time is usually about 50min. I like to serve it with a drizzle of olive oil and sliced crusty bread. Valentina, Liverpool